Search

Maida Vale author Chioma Okereke takes second place in national short story prize

18:27 30 January 2013

Chioma Okereke. Picture: Niall McDiarmid

Chioma Okereke. Picture: Niall McDiarmid

Archant

A Maida Vale author has beaten more than 1,800 others to be named runner-up in a prestigious inaugural short story competition with a tale about mushrooms, love and death.

Chioma Okereke, who lives in the Harrow Road, came second for her story Trompette de la Mort in the first Costa Short Story Award, announced alongside the Costa Book Awards on Tuesday night.

The recognition is further endorsement of her talent after her debut novel Bitter Leaf was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize – Africa Best First Book, in 2011.

The 36-year-old said: “It was really exciting and I’m really happy. Being there, in the line-up with the other finalists, made it more real.

“It’s still a bit of a blur to be honest. It is incredible, because so many people send things in. It is pretty phenomenal because you don’t know what these judges are thinking.”

The prize is decided by public vote from a shortlist selected by a judging panel. The authors are kept anonymous at the shortlisting stage, and Chioma discovered on the night that the judges thought Trompette de la Mort was written by Choclat author Joanne Harris.

“That was the biggest compliment,” she said. “It is one of those things where there is an element of craftsmanship on one level, and luck on another.”

Set in a French town, Trompette de la Mort is a woman’s evocative confession to her first-born child, the strikingly honest story of a mother and a killer that takes in love, sex, food, lies, life and death – all in less than 4,000 words.

Talking about the inspiration behind the tale, Chioma said: “Every couple of months last year I would get the papers on the way home and I would see a story about a woman who had killed her children.

“At the same time I met a friend of mine’s father-in-law who had just published a book about mushrooms, and that set itself in my mind.”

She said the idea of poisonous mushrooms “fused itself with my ideas” after hearing about one type, the trompette de la mort, on a TV cooking show.

“To be honest I am very lucky because I am not a natural short story writer,” she said. “I am not quite sure what a short story is, but as soon as [the woman] identified herself as a strong character it started to take shape. And I’m not a hater of mushrooms, but they’re not my favourite thing either!”

She added: “I didn’t spend a long time on it to be honest. I think I have spent a lot longer on less successful stories. It was trying to understand how people can do such things. I have tried to write a very natural story about something that is quite unnatural.”

Chioma is already working on her next book.

0 comments

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

00:01
An international poker player is locked in a row with his Highgate neighbour over a driveway. Picture: Nigel Sutton

An international gambler is locked in a row with his Highgate neighbour because his driveway belongs to the house next door – meaning he can’t legally access his own home.

Yesterday, 19:03
Thieves have been stealing post in the Frognal and Fitzjohns area of Hampstead

A gang has been stealing private school bills from doormats in Hampstead and doctoring them to make unwitting parents pay thousands of pounds into the fraudsters’ accounts, police have warned.

Yesterday, 18:38
Belsize Park Gardens

A terrified mother told how she was strangled until she lost consciousness and robbed in front of her two-year-old daughter.

Yesterday, 17:26
The Magdala. Picture: Polly Hancock

Hampstead’s world famous Magdala pub has closed its doors as its current landlords say they have been “unable to agree terms and conditions” on the lease with the company that owns it.

Yesterday, 16:37
Michael Otshudi, of Highgate, has been jailed for violent disorder

A 37-year-old from Highgate Village has been jailed after a man was shot at a wake for trying to break up a fight.

Yesterday, 13:31
Jonny (left) and Ruth Tamir (right) with Noam (centre)

A Belsize Park father has spoken of his pride after his son donated 61 per cent of his liver to save his life.

Yesterday, 12:56
Hodaya Mason (left) and Maryam (right) at an interfaith cultural exchange visit between the London Islamic Cultural Society at Haringey Mosque and Muswell Hill Synagogue

Muslim and Jewish women and girls came together to learn from one another’s culture and religion, with high hopes of kick-starting joint initiatives to help the refugee crisis.

Yesterday, 12:48
A  fire at a sheltered housing block in Belsize Park was apparently caused by a cigarette which had not been properly extinguished

A partially sighted man was led to safety by firefighters after a fire broke out in a sheltered housing block in Belsize Park yesterday evening.

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Champagne experience

This Valentine’s Day, the Coca-Cola London Eye is the perfect destination for lovebirds, offering a range of romantic experiences from Friday 12th February - Sunday 14th February 2016.

Sony Smart Ultra HD 55'' LED TV

Enjoy the ultimate entertainment experience in your living room with the Sony Smart Ultra 55’’ LED TV. Be the envy of all your friends with this huge TV- you can change your living room into your own cinema! Get the boys around to watch the football or get the girls around to watch the DVD of 50 Shades.. this is a prize that everyone would enjoy! Stand a chance to upgrade your current entertainment system by wining this fantastic prize.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe